The association between vertebral fracture severity and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) was investigated in a subset of patients in the Fracture Prevention Trial. We sought to determine whether vertebral fracture severity was associated with HRQOL scores, and if so, to determine the effects of teriparatide (recombinant human parathyroid hormone 1-34) on vertebral fracture grades that most strongly impact HRQOL in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
Vertebral fracture severity was assessed by the visual semiquantitative (SQ) method. A subset of 444 patients with a baseline radiograph completed the Osteoporosis Assessment Questionnaire. Baseline HRQOL scores were modeled as a function of maximum baseline vertebral fracture grade, while controlling for age, bone mineral density, body mass index, and back pain.
The effect of baseline vertebral fracture grade on baseline HRQOL was statistically significant, while interactions between vertebral fracture grade and the other variables were not statistically significant. SQ grade 3 (SQ3) vertebral fractures were associated with a significantly lower overall HRQOL score and with significantly lower physical function, symptoms, and emotional status dimension scores. After a median of 19 months of therapy, new or worsening SQ3 vertebral fractures occurred in 21 of 448 patients (4.7%) in the placebo group compared with 3 of 444 patients (0.7%) in the 20 μg/day teriparatide group. The risk of developing a new or worsened SQ3 vertebral fracture was reduced by 86% (P < 0.001) in patients treated with 20 μg/day teriparatide.
Compared with prevalent fractures of lesser severity, SQ3 vertebral fractures were associated with reduced HRQOL. Teriparatide treatment significantly reduced the risk of new or worsening SQ3 vertebral fractures. These findings suggest, but do not directly demonstrate, a benefit of teriparatide on HRQOL.